A change in the rules around flying drones will come into effect next week and will prevent drones being flown in public spaces without consent and a safety plan in place.

The change to Rule Part 101, which requires drone users to have consent of people and property owners before flying a drone over them, will keep people safe, General Manager of general aviation for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Steve Moore said.

The new rules come into effect on August 1.

Transport minister Simon Bridges today tried his hand at flying an unmanned drone, while on a visit to Christchurch. The minister was in the garden city to unveil a series of new rules governing the use of unmanned aircraft, which are set to come into effect from next week. Under the new regime operators without a CAA operating certificate will need to request permission to take-off every time they want to fly them outside their own property. For a complete overview of the new rules, visit http://www.caa.govt.nz/rpas/ Credit: NZN Video

"These changes address the safety risks that modern unmanned aircraft pose to other airspace users as well as people and property on the ground," Mr Moore said.


"Having a conversation with a property owner beforehand is an effective means of risk management because they are likely to have the best knowledge of the risks."

People with drones who intend to fly over public spaces will also need to get permission from the land owner. For example, if an operator wants to fly over a park, they will need permission from the local council.

"We are encouraging public land owners to be proactive. This could involve erecting signs indicating if unmanned aircraft flights are allowed or not at the park entrance."

Anyone who flies without consent can receive a fine, a written warning or prosecution by CAA.

Civil Aviation Rule Part 102 - Unmanned Aircraft Operator Certification will also come into force on August 1 and will enable people who want to operate outside the existing rules for unmanned aircraft to do so if they have in place a plan to manage the safety risks.

"This new rule part gives operators greater freedom while maintaining the highest standards of aviation safety," Mr Moore said.

Those who cannot get consent from a landowner or individuals can still fly a drone if they get an operating certificate from the CAA under Rule Part 102.

"These changes strike a balance between safety and enabling operations," he says.


The changes are part of the CAA's interim approach to regulating drones.

The exact number of unmanned aircraft operations in New Zealand is unknown but CAA believe the number is small compared to conventional aircraft operations.

The CAA receives up to 50 enquiries a week relating to drones. This compares to around 20-30 enquiries weekly at the beginning of 2014, and the CAA says this number is likely to increase with the growing popularity of unmanned aircraft operations.

The number of aviation incidents involving unmanned aircraft has grown significantly since 2011.

Unmanned aircraft incidents

Year - Total
• 2007 - 2
• 2008 - 1
• 2010 - 1
• 2011 - 1
• 2012 - 3
• 2013 - 9
• 2014 - 27
• 2015 (to end June) - 53